BlackBerrys got bigger, of course, and got features like the ability to make calls and eventually take photos. And then, almost overnight, they became a hot consumer product and RIM became an industry giant. However, the company would struggle with the much more volatile consumer market. Its cheaper consumer phones, unlike the ones it made its name with, were often buggy and unreliable.
When RIM tried to figure out what consumers wanted, it tried an everybody approach. In 2011, the company couldn’t tell me how many different models it was offering for an item in which I described its product range like this: “There are BlackBerrys that tip, BlackBerrys that slide, BlackBerrys with a touchscreen, BlackBerrys with a touchscreen and keyboard , BlackBerrys with full keyboards, BlackBerrys with compact keyboards, high-end BlackBerrys and budget models. ”In RIM’s efforts to do everyone justice, it gradually attracted almost no one.
In 2011, of course, the iPhone was well established. The RIM executives were initially negative about Apple’s offer. Of course, there was no physical keyboard. Shortly after the iPhone was released, at the end of an interview, a RIM executive mentioned what he saw as the iPhone’s fatal flaw. Unlike BlackBerrys, iPhones couldn’t reduce the cost of wireless data transfer by compressing web pages. They are “bandwidth inefficient,” he explained.
Provided they knew something about bandwidth efficiency, consumers didn’t really care. Smartphones were all about software, not keyboards, a fact that BlackBerry executives were slow to accept. “They’re not idiots, but they acted like idiots,” Jean-Louis Gassée, a former Apple executive, told me in 2011.